A stoic Henry Hunt denied Victoria victory before they denied him a century as South Australia batted through the final day of their Sheffield Shield opener.
The opener (97 off 326 balls) was impenetrable on Sunday, refusing easy singles for the last hour to farm the strike as the Redbacks finished 7-207 in unlikely pursuit of the Bushrangers’ 425.
After creeping through the 80s at Adelaide’s Karen Rolten Oval, he began the day’s final over on 93 and glanced the third ball of Will Sutherland’s over for four.
But, with a result then out of the equation, players shook hands with two balls left in the over to leave him agonisingly short of an eighth first-class hundred.
Victorian captain Peter Handscomb’s day-three century was followed by a late declaration, with SA surviving 12 overs to resume on Sunday at 0-38 requiring a further 387 runs for an improbable win.
Three wickets in each session extinguished hope of a successful chase, with debutant Fergus O’Neill (2-24 off 17 overs) effecting the vital dismissals of Test pair Travis Head and Alex Carey.
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Head flayed at a drive but picked out short cover to officially kill-off the chase, while Carey’s grinding innings (two off 38 balls) was ended when wicketkeeper Sam Harper snaffled an edge while standing up to the stumps.
Allrounder Nathan McSweeney then struck a wide, looping Jon Holland full-toss to a diving Mitchell Perry at backward point to open up the tail.
Victoria engineered another wicket when Nic Maddison’s direct hit from a tight angle found Wes Agar (19 off 56) just short of his ground.
That was the only wicket to fall in the final session though, with No.9 David Grant digging in for 45 balls without scoring to see it through with Hunt.
There were few other chances, although Hunt survived a tight lbw appeal and almost chopping onto his stumps in consecutive deliveries against spinner Holland.
Will Sutherland went wicketless in the final innings but had a fine game, his first-innings maiden century followed by a four-wicket haul to give the Vics an 80-run first innings lead.
Renshaw on Test recall mission at Bulls
Chicago’s Bulls had Michael Jordan lifting the standard and Jimmy Peirson says there’s two men doing the same for Queensland’s Bulls.
The in-form wicketkeeper has also revealed the strategic shift designed to catapult teammate Matthew Renshaw back into a baggy green as he continues his own push for a Test debut.
Peirson powered to a fifth first-class century in the last two years as the Bulls beat Tasmania by an innings and 172 runs on Saturday to open the Sheffield Shield season.
His bright innings on the tricky, newly-laid Allan Border Field square followed an unbeaten 128 for Australia A in a successful chase of 367 in Sri Lanka in June.
The ‘keeper scored 67 not out in the first innings of that game, only called into the squad as a late replacement.
The state’s youngest-ever Sheffield Shield winning captain when the Bulls won the competition in 2018, Peirson is enjoying the presence of Test pair Marnus Labuschagne and regular captain Usman Khawaja to begin their season.
“It’s great having Marnie (Labuschagne) around; you see the problem-solving that goes on while he’s batting, (it) is something I’ve learned from,” Peirson said.
Peirson reserved high praise for Test opener Khawaja and Australia’s No.3 Labuschagne, who scored 72 and 127 respectively in Brisbane last week.
“It just sets good standards, you see how they go about their business and see that’s the level you need to be at to play Test cricket,” he said.
“As teammates we want to be rising to that level. I know when (Michael) Jordan played basketball he spoke about bringing guys along with him, and those guys do that for us.”
While Peirson has been piling on the runs Alex Carey has been making the Test spot his own.
“There’s a lot of keepers doing the job at the moment in Australia; all you can do is worry about your own backyard,” Peirson said of the fight for higher honours.
“Kez (Carey) has done a really good job, especially in the subcontinent.
“He’s earned his position, but there’s no doubt everyone wants that position.”
The wicketkeeper isn’t the only Bull pushing his case with former Test opener Renshaw and fast bowler Mark Steketee, who had a hat-trick ball dropped in the slips on Saturday, making claims.
Khawaja had pushed long-term opener Renshaw into the middle order when the veteran forced his way back into the Test fold. Now cemented at the top of Australia’s order, Khawaja slid himself back down to No.4 for Queensland’s season opener so Renshaw could face the new ball.
“Matty has earned his way back up into the opening role with national selectors hopefully looking at him as a future opener for Australia,” Peirson said of the surprise move. “We’re fortunate (to have top-order depth) and Uz (Khawaja) is at the point in his career where he scores runs wherever he bats.”